An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Doug Moon, Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

My urge to go on a backpacking trip started this past spring when I returned from the 6th-grade outdoor trip. I was walking to the Middle School with Outdoor Program coordinator Chip Mehring when I mentioned I'd like to co-lead a 7th-grade backpacking trip. Once Chip found out I'd never been backpacking, he encouraged me to first do so without kids (great advice from a wise man)!

Then in May, Graeme Somerville, the Middle School Outdoor Program coordinator, sent an email to faculty and staff about a backpacking opportunity. In his message, he outlined three purposes of the trip:

  • To train teachers who are relatively new to backpacking the basics of wilderness travel.
  • To learning backcountry "leave no trace" principles and how to support our students in the wilderness.
  • To expand our pool of teachers who can participate in our 7th-grade outdoor trips.

After reading through the details, I immediately replied, "Yes!"

So for three days and two nights this July, a group of Middle School colleagues and I backpacked in Mount Rainier National Park. Not only did I learn the basics of backpacking, but I walked away with skills and information that will stay with me forever. Prepping and carrying gear, safety tips, geology, vocabulary lessons, campsite do's and don'ts, meals, and games are just a handful of takeaways. I learned to appreciate the journey, take in the sights and sounds, and connect with colleagues.

Finally, as this was my first trip to Mt. Rainier, I learned to appreciate the things in my own backyard!